It can take time to find the right HOA property management company and even longer to develop a solid, working relationship. However, if you’re starting to feel like your existing arrangement just isn’t working, it might be time to cut ties and move on. You shouldn’t have to settle for subpar services at high costs or work with a partner who isn’t truly on your side.
Your HOA property management company has a responsibility to keep the property running smoothly, advise you of upcoming costs and expected maintenance issues, keep the lines of communication open with the board and association residents, and make sure all issues are addressed quickly. A good property manager will have small issues from time to time, but the property will usually run smoothly and problems will be resolved quickly. If your HOA property management company is failing in any area of your property management, it may be time to re-evaluate their services.
If you’re experiencing any of the following warning signs in working with your existing property management company, you should definitely start searching for a new partner. We promise, a better property management company is out there and waiting for you!
#1: Hidden Costs
When you partner with a property management company, the fee structure should be clearly outlined. If your monthly fees begin to rise out of the blue, you should ask for clarification on each and every charge. Transparent costs, alongside communication, will help contribute to the profitability of your investment. However, if your property management company starts to ding you with new fees, simply asking for a revised service agreement may not be enough to save the relationship.
While your property management company may handle bookkeeping, accounts, budgets, collection of fees and payments, it should be completely transparent with the HOA board. The board should have access to all financial reports and accounting statements with all fees clearly detailed. Costs that are lumped together with no explanation may indicate mismanagement of funds. Expect completely transparent accounting every month.
#2: Payment Inconsistencies
If your management company is having trouble transferring owner disbursements to you or starts to deviate from previous behavior, you should take notice. It’s important that you partner with a property management company that values paying owners and investors on time. If you experience erratic payments, late payments or missed payments, it’s a definite sign of procedural issues within the property management organization. When it comes to getting paid, you simply cannot afford to ignore mistakes!
Another sign of a problem happens when association fees are paid, but not posted promptly. This can result in erroneous late fees to home owners or possibly litigation. Poor management with respect to accounts receivable is a red flag and should be investigated immediately. A management company who does not respect your money does not deserve your business.
#3: Communication Issues
It is the duty of a property manager to respond to your emails and calls in a timely fashion and with urgency as necessary. However, if you’re receiving slow responses from your property manager, or not receiving responses at all, you should go on high alert that something is amiss. You should also know who to get in touch with if you have questions. If there is confusion about your main point of contact or continual turnover in this position you should consider elevating your concerns. When you work with an HOA property manager there should be an understanding that you will communicate honestly about the good and the bad; the last thing you want is to hear complaints from a contractor, vendor or tenant directly.
If your HOA management company is not responding to your calls and emails in a timely fashion, you can be sure that association owners and tenants are experiencing poor service. This is one of the biggest complaints about HOA managers. Expect a good property manager to submit contact reports to the board providing a record of incoming communications and responses given.
#4: Diminishing Levels of Service
A good property management company will take care of your property by conducting regular visits to provide cleaning and upkeep of common areas, in addition to oversight of any active contract services. However, if you’re sensing that some of these general expectations aren’t being met by your HOA property manager, you should start asking questions and demanding regular updates.
A representative from your HOA management company is required to be present at regular meetings of the HOA board. If there are unreasonable delays resolving homeowner problems or other concerns, set goals and deadlines at the meeting. If projects are not completed, or if tenant requests and building cleanliness continue to be ignored, you should start looking for a new partner immediately!
#5: Reduced Profits
If your lease or rental rate has slowed to a crawl, the profits on your property will be reduced in kind. This is a common reason to question the integrity of your property management company and it should call into question the marketing efforts that are being used to promote your property. Financial losses should be avoided whenever possible and this should be one of the top priorities of your management company.
Whenever profits drop, investigate to discover why. Ask the management company about the drop and evaluate their answer. If the drop is due to one-time expenses, it will return to normal quickly. But when profits go into decline, you deserve an explanation. If your HOA property manager cannot satisfactorily explain the decline and what is being done to fix it, it is time to look for a new property manager.
#6: Poor Relationships with Association Residents
The HOA board and property management company serve the members of the Homeowners Association. Property owners can sometimes be unreasonable or demanding, however it is the job of the property manager to be unbiased, firm, and fair at all times. Polite communication is a must.
Unfortunately, this is a common complaint from homeowners. Staff from the property management company can sometimes be discourteous or disrespectful. Complaints of this nature should be taken seriously. The first time it happens, there may be a good explanation. However, if you are hearing these complaints regularly, you may need a new HOA property manager.
#7 Issues of Compliance or Violations that Remain Unaddressed
One of the benefits of hiring an HOA management company is having a professional, unbiased party to address violations and compliance to the HOA Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). Addressing issues of violations or non-compliance quickly reduces the chances of problems between board members and residents.
If your HOA property manager is not addressing the violations quickly, you could end up with angry residents and board members. Unaddressed issues can lower the residents’ satisfaction with their property and their general quality of life. If your HOA manager is not addressing issues of compliance or violations quickly, consider whether your management company has the right expectations for your relationship.
Finding the right partner isn’t always easy and can certainly be an annoying process. You may also have to work through a few companies before you find the right partner. But, when you do find an HOA property management company that operates with your same values in mind, it will be the start of a great new working relationship.